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GOP congressman pulls Issa into ugly divorce

Rep. Darrell Issa was a groomsman in Rep. Mike Turner’s wedding to Majida Mourad in December 2015. Now, Turner is locked in a contentious divorce with Mourad — and he wants Issa deposed by his attorneys.

Turner (R-Ohio) approached Issa (R-Calif.) in the Capitol last week and handed him a letter seeking a deposition as part of his divorce proceedings, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the interaction.

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It’s unclear why Turner would seek Issa’s testimony. Mourad’s attorney, Sanford Ain, said in a statement Monday that Turner “may have” told “third parties” that she was unfaithful, “thinking it would advantage him in the divorce.” But any claim of infidelity by Mourad “has no basis in fact,” Ain said.

“Because it has been raised, Ms. Mourad was never unfaithful to Congressman Turner during the marriage, before or after Congressman Turner filed for divorce. Any allegation of her being unfaithful to Congressman Turner is simply false and defamatory,” Ain said.

The couple’s abrupt divorce has been a subject of speculation on Capitol Hill for months. Turner, an eight-term lawmaker, filed for divorce in May 2017 after just 1½ years of marriage.

Mourad and Issa, who share Lebanese-American heritage, have been friends for two decades, said a source close to Mourad. The person said their relationship is just that — friendship — and nothing more.

Issa, who has been married for 38 years and has one son, also rejected any suggestion of an inappropriate relationship with Mourad.

“There is no truth whatsoever to these allegations,” Issa said in a statement. The San Diego Republican announced his retirement in January.

The episode is a bizarre instance of a lawmaker’s domestic travails extending to the House of Representatives.

In his divorce filing, Turner said Mourad “is guilty of a fraudulent contract.” Turner has sought $ 1.5 million as a divorce settlement, according to several sources familiar with the case. It’s a surprising amount — roughly $ 100,000 per month from the date of their wedding to when Turner filed for divorce.

In the past nine months, Turner has been tussling with Mourad over the disclosure of her assets. Mourad has sought to keep secret the details of a stock agreement with Tellurian Inc, a Houston-based natural gas company for which she serves as a lobbyist. Mourad is significantly wealthier than Turner: She is worth between $ 2.8 million and $ 9.8 million, while Turner is worth between $ 156,000 and $ 744,000, according to financial disclosure reports the couple filed with the House clerk’s office.

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Turner’s office and his attorneys did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Mourad, 48, would not comment directly on the divorce case with Turner, 58, noting they are still fighting it out in court.

“Ms. Mourad is saddened that her short marriage of just over a year did not work out and she hopes to resolve it quickly in a dignified fashion,” Ain said in his statement. “The parties are engaged in litigation currently in Montgomery County, Ohio and it will be handled and resolved in the courts. Ms. Mourad will not comment on details of the litigation and would prefer it be kept private.”

Turner’s marriage to Mourad was his second. He divorced his first wife, Lori, in 2013, according to the Dayton Daily News. Turner has two daughters from that marriage.

Mourad, who was on The Hill’s “50 Most Beautiful List” in 2015, was a former congressional staffer going back to the 1990s. She worked for Reps. Sonny Bono (R-Calif.) and Mary Bono (R-Calif.), House payroll records show.

Mourad was also an aide to former Sen. Spencer Abraham. Mourad followed Abraham to the Energy Department when he became secretary in 2001. Mourad was at DOE from 2001 to 2004, according to her LinkedIn profile. She then became a partner in the Abraham Group, an international consulting firm founded by the Michigan Republican.

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In 2012, Mourad began working for Cheniere Energy, a Houston, Texas-based natural gas company. She registered as a lobbyist for that company in fall 2012, lobbying disclosure records show.

In May 2017, Mourad began working for Tellurian. She is currently registered to lobby for Tellurian and Cheniere.

Mourad has been a moderately active campaign donor. In the past two years, she gave $ 9,400 to the National Republican Campaign Committee and $ 5,200 to Speaker Paul Ryan’s reelection campaign. Mourad gave $ 12,200 to corporate PACs in 2016 and 2017; from 2007 to 2013, she gave $ 6,250 to Issa.

She has never given to Turner’s campaigns.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Turner gave a letter to Issa seeking a deposition on the House floor.

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